Heidi Nigen is Ridge Vineyards’ Director of Supply Chain and Logistics, though she has held many roles in her time here. While working in the tasting room as a part-time employee in August 2001, she also attended the Santa Clara Leavey School of Business toward her MBA and worked at Gap’s Corporate Headquarters in San Francisco as a Marketing Manager. In December 2001, Ridge brought her on as a full-time employee to oversee the retail sales department. Continue reading to learn more about Heidi’s accomplishments and interests.
I joined Ridge in 2001. I started working at the Monte Bello Tasting Room on the weekends. At the time, I was also going to grad school and working at Gap’s corporate headquarters, launching oldnavy.com. (This fact makes me feel very old.) I was interested in wine and wanted to learn more, so what better place than Ridge? A few months later, I was hired full-time as the Retail Sales Manager.
When I moved to California in 1997, Ridge was one, if not the first, wineries I visited. Back then, they often put a board across a couple of barrels outside the tasting room. You’d see Ridge’s long-time employee, Connie, perched on a stool, drinking chardonnay and talking to customers about the wine. She basically held court, and everyone learned the rules very quickly. She was kind and gracious, yet you didn’t dare rush her. Somehow this experience seemed charming and compelling and piqued my interest… the wine, the place, and the people who worked there.
I feel like I’ve worked in every corner of “the barn” on Montebello Road. It originally housed the entire Ridge staff before we outgrew it. As it was a barn built in the late 1800s with no insulation, I (we all) endured many summer days of sweltering heat and freezing cold winter mornings. When we were bursting at the seams and had to get creative with space, I also inhabited a trailer that sat alongside the barn – still suffering the same pains of heat and cold, this time in a metal box. Although, I do believe the trailer had an air conditioner!
But not only have I had many offices and locations (others consisted of Bubb Road in Cupertino and downtown Saratoga) at Ridge, I have also changed roles, one blending into another. In 2010, after being the Retail Sales Manager, which had a strong marketing component, since that was my background, I moved into the role of Marketing Manager and eventually Marketing Director. And in 2021, moved over to the winemaking side of the business, working with John Olney as he became Head Winemaker. I am currently the Director of Supply Chain and Logistics, overseeing the bottling logistics and supplies at both wineries, integrating best practices and processes, leading key projects, and I continue to do the artwork for the labels and tech sheets, which I have since 2011.
William Short, a theologian who bought the lower winery property (where our tasting room is located) in the 1940s, had several dachshunds that would chase the deer.
As many long-time Ridge fans know, Ridge was started by four SRI (Stanford Research Institute) engineers in the 1960s. But let’s not forget about the women who stood next to these men and worked at Ridge every weekend with their husbands while raising their families.
Sue Crane, a member of one of the founding families of Ridge, has written a wonderful book, “Behind the Barrels: The Women of Ridge,” recalling the founding of Ridge Vineyards and the important roles played by herself, Fran Bennion, and Blanche Rosen. Read more about them and explore her book here.
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